German Olympians look to dominate winter games

German Olympians look to dominate winter games
Biathlete Andrea Henkel at Antholz, Italy last week. Photo: DPA
Germany will be looking to at the stay top of the Winter Olympics medal table at Vancouver despite a morale-sapping doping scandal which claimed multiple gold-medal winner Claudia Pechstein.

The German team won 29 medals at the 2006 Turin Games, a haul that included 11 gold, 12 silver and six bronze.

Since reunification in 1990, Germany has never finished outside the top three in the medal tables and was top at Albertville in 1992, Nagano in 1998 and Turin.

The 2010 team has some rising stars in their respective disciplines including Maria Riesch, who will be pushing her close American friend Lindsey Vonn all the way in the alpine skiing disciplines.

In the biathlon, rising star Magdalena Neuner and veteran Kati Wilhelm, who won gold in the women’s pursuit in 2006, will be leading a typically strong team.

For the men, biathlete Michael Greis will be looking to repeat the three gold medals success he achieved in Turin.

The women’s team seems to be hitting form at just the right time after several successes in Antholz, Italy, last weekend.

Andrea Henkel stood on all three spots on the podium after achieving third in the Individual, second in the Sprint and a win in the Pursuit, while Neuner collected two first places and a second.

But it has not all been good news for the German team recently.

Claudia Pechstein’s doping ban will damage medal chances, as the 37-year-old has the experience of five Olympic gold medals under her belt from each of the last four games.

She was ruled out of competing in Vancouver despite a last-ditch appeal to a Swiss Federal Court against a doping ban from July 2009 by the International Skating Union (ISU) on the basis of irregularities in her blood.

On the sliding events, Germany is once again looking to dominate, having claimed bobsleigh golds in the two-man, two-woman and four-man events in Turin, while Sylke Otto picked up a gold in the women’s singles luge.

With three Olympic gold medals under his belt, veteran bobsledder Andre Lang, who has 14 world championship medals, will be looking to claim a medal at his third consecutive winter games.

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